By Patrick Meagher
OTTAWA — At 94, Ottawa Valley veterinarian and memoir writer Roly Armitage figured he had just enough ideas and juice in him to write one last memoir.
Just in time for Christmas, Armitage has written his third book, Straight From the Horse’s Mouth. While his first two were chock-full of lively anecdotes, this one is about local horse racing and its history, breeding, selecting a winner and a litany of racing terms explained. He puts to rest the suspicion that races are rigged. The majority of owners are “racing for the purse,” he writes, referring to the prize money for the winners in each race. “I definitely abstain from betting on my own horse. I have very little knowledge of where my horse will finish other than hope.”
Armitage does recall a case of fraud. There was one fast colt racing at Aylmer, Quebec, winning regularly in the two-year-old class everywhere and at this Gatineau race in 1975, the colt won again. But winners must submit to saliva testing for drugs. Armitage was the veterinarian on duty and “I was alarmed to observe that this horse was a three-year-old according to his dental arrangement.” He called the judges who called in another vet for a second opinion. The horse owner was found guilty of fraud and had to repay all the winnings from previous victories. The owner was banned for life from owning or racing horses. Armitage explains that until age five you can determine a horse’s age by counting its teeth and examining their location.
Armitage’s first book, The Way It Was and Now, has sold more than 2,200 copies. His second book, Now, About Yesterday, has sold more than 2,000 copies.
Armitage’s self-published history is a quick read at 117 pages and can be purchased by going to www.rolyarmitage.com, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 613-859-7740.